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On the Campaign Trail: Our Newmarket-Aurora pundits weigh in on the results

Well, it's all over but for the crying! NewmarketToday asked several Newmarket-Aurora residents of various political affilations who are actively engaged in the local political scene to share their thoughts and observations about the Oct. 21 federal election campaign, the issues and the candidates. Our thanks to them as we wrap up our pundits panel today.

Longtime labour activist, Ed Chudak, NDP

On what’s next for the New Democratic Party:

Chudak predicted a minority Liberal government days before the election, and said that, in effect, the NDP now holds the balance of power.

“So, what we’re going to do is pursue the agenda that we ran on, most notably, pharmacare,” he said. “And, I anticipate that may become a reality over the term of this minority government.”

It’s interesting, Chudak notes, that most progressive legislation in this country has come about in minority governments, including health care, and the Canada Pension Plan.

“I think pharmacare is certainly something that people can look forward to, at least there’s good odds that it will come into effect,” he said.

On the challenges we face in such a polarizing election:

The country is clearly divided and that’s not a good thing, said Chudak, who is concerned about the situation. But the fact the NDP won one seat in Alberta is somewhat encouraging. 

“It’s almost ironic that Justin Trudeau is in the same position his father was in after the mid-1970s election with the western alienation that’s there,” he said, adding that sentiment does surface from time to time. “But the chances are very good that, over the objections of the NDP, the Greens, and probably the Bloc, the pipeline will be pushed through with the assistance of the Conservatives.”

“Now, I may be wrong on that, but in a straight political sense it may be one way of regaining some credibility in the West for the Liberal Party,” Chudak said. “And it would also be a deliverable for the Conservative Party.”

While some people think that’s far-fetched idea, Chudak believes it’s certainly a possibility.

On what went right/wrong during the campaign:

Chudak was disappointed to see the defeat of Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt in the Milton riding.

“She’s one of the last progressive Conservatives around and now I anticipate there will be a further drift to the right in the Conservative Party, which happened in Ontario when John Tory got defeated,” he said. “And then, subsequently, you had (Tim) Hudak and (Doug) Ford, who took the party further and further to the right.”

It’s quite clear that strategic voting is alive and well in the country, Chudak said, offering as evidence the fact that the NDP didn’t win seats in ridings it was predicted to have a strong chance, such as Toronto-Danforth, Davenport, Parkdale-High Park, and Windsor-Tecumseth.

“I think you can write that off to strategic voting,” he said. “People were just afraid of what (Andrew) Scheer and the Conservatives represented, particularly in the wake of Mr. Ford.” 

“Interestingly enough, Scheer sort of added credibility to that by not letting Ford get involved in the campaign at all. That’s saying to people that there’s a problem,” added Chudak.

On the leaders’ election night speeches:

What struck Chudak about the leaders’ election speeches was they spoke all at the same time, over each other.

“I’ve never seen that, ever,” he said, adding he volunteered on his first NDP campaign 52 years ago when he was 15. “It’s like they’re still trying to shout over each other. The fact is, it’s a minority Parliament, people are supreme and have given that mandate, and that means you have to work together. It’s going to be interesting.”

On climate change playing a role in the results:

Chudak believes concern for the environment and climate change played a role in higher voter turnout in the 2019 federal election, which unofficially, is about 4 per cent higher at 66 per cent than in the 2015 election. 

“The Liberals sold themselves as proponents of climate change, and I note that I believe the voter turnout was a bit higher too. It’s 66 per cent this time, over 62 per cent last time in 2015. I think some of that is due to young people casting concerned ballots, and the western alienation. It would be interesting to see what voter turnout is region by region.

On what the election results mean locally:

Strategic voting was alive and well, Chudak said, adding he not was deluding himself that the NDP would capture the Newmarket-Aurora federal seat.

“There’s a lot of work to do, but if you look at it, Tony Van Bynen handily beat Conservative Lois Brown, and she’s been at it since 2006,” he said. “She’s been around a long time and I agree with Darryl Wolk that they do have a fair base in the riding, so I think strategic voting did play a role here.”

Who's Ed Chudak?:

Ed Chudak is retired, but serves as a part-time member of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. He spent his career as a teacher activist with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, of which he was bestowed an honorary lifetime membership. He also served as a liaison with the Canadian Labour Congress and labour community. His work has been acknowledged with an Ontario Teachers’ Federation fellowship and he was named to the Ontario Federation of Labour honour roll.


'Political junkie' Darryl Wolk, Conservative

On what’s next for the Conservative Party:

It’s clear that both the Conservatives and the NDP will have a mandatory leadership review after the election results, Wolk said. He expects there will be discussions about whether Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s results were good enough, along with similar discussions for NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, given he lost quite a few seats and didn’t have the breakthrough that the polls were indicating.

“For that reason, I think Justin Trudeau has about six months for free in terms of governing, and the Bloc won’t want an immediate election given that they were the big winners last night,” Wolk said. “The NDP and the Conservatives will have to make some internal decisions on their leadership and platform.” 

On the challenges we face in such a polarizing election:

Like many pundits, Wolk believes the biggest issue facing Canada is the lack of national unity that became clear in this election. 

“Ultimately, the rise of the Bloc Quebecois is not a good thing, and there’s going to be a lot of people upset with the results in Western Canada,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any potential of any unity whatsoever in this minority government.”

“The majority of people voted against Justin Trudeau, the Conservatives won the popular vote, and the Liberals are not really a national party anymore, they’ve got very little representation west of Ontario. Trudeau’s going to have a challenge on his hands,” Wolk predicts. 

Wolk said he doesn’t see much chance of the parties working together in the minority government that was elected Oct. 21.

“I think it’s going to be about more heavy partisan considerations, like is there enough fundraising to fight another election, or if something was to come out of the SNC-Lavalin situation and Justin Trudeau’s polls took a hit, I’m sure they’d all try to take advantage, based on electoral considerations,” he said.

Above all, Wolks believes a lot of Canadians are going to be disappointed with the dysfunction and partisanship we’ll see over the next year or two.

On what went right/wrong during the campaign:

The Conservatives did make some errors, Wolk acknowledges. He said allowing the Ontario race to be a referendum of Doug Ford, instead of Justin Trudeau, backfired. 

“Ultimately, having Ford hidden … highlighted the issue around the (provincial) cuts, and the Conservatives probably would have been more successful if they let Ford retaliate against some of the attacks Trudeau put forward,” he said.

Also, based on election results in the GTA, the Conservatives did a poor job with multicultural outreach, he said.

“Look at how Ford won, how Jason Kenney won a majority for Harper, a big part of that was the outreach in communities like Brampton, Vaughan, Mississauga. And last night’s results didn’t pan out this election,” he said.

And lastly, Scheer was too timid with his policies and platform, said Wolk.

“Traditionally, Conservatives do a bit better electorally when they are clear where they stand and not apologize for being a Conservative,” he said. “I felt throughout the campaign, Scheer was on the run from the CBC and the Toronto Star, and really seemed to be afraid to put his foot forward.”

On the leaders’ election night speeches:

Wolk joins the chorus of complaints about the leaders talking over each other.

“Trudeau cutting off Scheer’s speech was a terrible way to start the minority, I don’t think that’s going to create a harmony moment,” he said, adding the NDP’s Singh seemed to be celebrating as if he was prime minister but, ultimately, lost half his caucus. 

“Scheer’s speech was OK but, obviously, he was frustrated,” Wolk said. “But it was worth pointing out that the Conservative Party did grow in every region in the country and won the popular vote, and it’s a clear indication that they’re going to be the main opposition party and their No. 1 focus is going to be getting ready for when the government falls.”

On climate change playing a role in the results:

“Absolutely, it led to Conservatives pretty much sweeping Western Canada,” he said. “There’s a lot of blue in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Locally in Ontario, Doug Ford probably had more of a role than climate change or any other federal issue.”

On what the election results mean locally:

Wolk said Newmarket-Aurora MP-elect Tony Van Bynen obviously ran the wave that came with Justin Trudeau in the GTA, especially if you look at last night’s wins in seats like Newmarket-Aurora, Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Whitby.

“If the Conservatives are to form the government, they have to win those seats automatically and break more into parts of Toronto like Scarborough and Etobicoke,” he said.

Wolk doesn’t anticipate a cabinet position for Van Bynen in the new government.

“He’s got three things going against him: Trudeau prefers a gender-balanced cabinet; because Trudeau’s in a minority government, he may have to look to the NDP if he wants a stable government for cabinet positions and; because the GTA-area ridings are the ones that sent the most Liberal MPs to Ottawa, Tony faces a lot of competition, particularly with only two former cabinet ministers defeated last night.”

Who's Darryl Wolk?:

A resident of Newmarket since 1985, Darryl Wolk has an MBA and undergraduate degrees in commerce and political science. He has worked in government relations, policy development and as a legislative assistant to former Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees. Wolk also ran for Ward 5 councillor and deputy mayor in Newmarket municipal elections. He has participated in international, national, provincial and local campaigns, is a political commentator and is active online. He has been engaged politically in the local riding since he was 14 and followed local politics for the past 25 years.


Community volunteer, Peter Cozzi, Liberal

Gracious in victory, Cozzie is welcoming the “very decent results” that saw his party win a minority government (“only 13 seats away from a majority”) and Newmarket-Aurora elect Liberal Tony Van Bynen. Before saying anything else, he said, “I want to thank Tony Van Bynen and his wife, Roxanne — because they are a team — they worked very hard for this. I can’t even begin to speak to how significant it was for Newmarket-Aurora to have a candidate like Tony.” 

On the party leaders’ speeches:

“They were the first speeches of the next campaign,” Cozzi said. “Everyone is looking ahead — and so they should, that’s a politician’s job.”

The overlapping speeches perhaps speaks to the remaining bitterness among the leaders from the intensely polarizing campaign.

“Trudeau took a lot of personal attacks, he’s a human being. No one likes being called a fraud and a phony,” Cozzi said, recalling the English-speaking leaders debate, which remains a highlight of the campaign for him.

“Maybe that’s the last time anyone should be called that,” he added. 

On what’s next for the Liberal party:

Cozzi is anticipating an election with 18 to 24 month, “The politicians are leading us there. Listen to their speeches, it’s on.”

The Conservatives and Liberals “share the pain” in losing two excellent politicians: Olympic medallist winner and Liberal candidate Adam van Koeverden flipped the traditionally blue riding of Milton to defeat deputy Conservative Party leader and incumbent Lisa Raitt; while the Conservatives' Michael Kram ousted  longtime Liberal MP Ralph Goodale from the Regina-Wascana riding, which he had represented for 26 years.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they run in the next election, this isn’t the end of their careers,” he added.

On what went right:

Cozzie credits a hard-working, strong base of volunteers, who knocked on more than 30,000 doors and made more than 30,000 phone calls.

As well, the Liberal Party was focused on the riding, providing additional support.

For instance, Liberal Party of Canada president Suzanne Cowan joined Van Bynen on his door knocking last weekend.

On ‘what about the West?’:

For the first time since 1979, the party that won the most votes, the Conservatives, didn't win the most seats — that was the Liberals, by a strong margin of 157 seats. Nearly three-quarters of the Liberal caucus hails from Ontario and Quebec, while Alberta and Saskatchewan are without a single Liberal member.

“That is a reason not to have proportional representation,” Cozzi, “that came across very clearly to me last night, it hit me like a hammer. Andrew Scheer would be prime minister, and Eastern Canada would have been swamped by the overwhelming (Conservative) support for the West.”

Unlike the U.S., which votes for its president by majority, Canada doesn’t have a Congress and Senate with local representation that provides the balance of power, he added.

On the impact of the climate change issue:

“It’s a fair assumption that’s the reason the progressive vote was high,” Cozzi said, with the Liberal’s “do-able” climate plan, which maintains the strength of the economy, being the most appealing option to many voters.

But without a doubt, the road ahead is challenging on this issue, and it will take time to transition to a green economy, he added. 

Who's Peter Cozzi?:

Peter Cozzi, a resident of Newmarket since 1987, is the father of five children. He was secretary of the Newmarket High School Parent Council, treasurer of the East Gwillimbury Soccer Club and coached soccer, baseball and basketball. He has played and coached in the Newmarket Men’s Baseball League for 25 years.


Here are the unofficial results for the Newmarket-Aurora riding in Canada’s 43rd general election:

Elected: Liberal Party

Candidate: Tony Van Bynen

Votes: 25,957

Per cent: 42.9

Green Party

Candidate: Walter Bauer

Votes: 3,437

Per cent: 5.7

PC Party

Candidate: Dorian Baxter

Votes: 898

Per cent: 1.5

Conservative Party

Candidate: Lois Brown

Votes: 23,079

Per cent: 38.2

Parti Rhinocéros Party

Candidate: Laurie Goble

Votes: 101

Per cent: 0.2

New Democratic Party

Candidate: Yvonne Kelly

Votes: 6,418

Per cent: 10.6

People’s Party

Candidate: Andrew McCaughtrie

Votes: 578

Per cent: 1.0

Total number of valid votes: 60,468

Polls reporting: 216 of 216 

Voter turnout: 65.78 per cent; 60,468 of 91,920 registered electors

Riding population: 117,418

— With files from Debora Kelly



Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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